I am very privileged to be bringing you this review of Summer in the city by Fiona Collins as part of the blog tour hosted by Random House Tours. I was kindly sent an advance physical copy of this book to share my thoughts during the tour. (I mean just how pretty is that front cover?? I was dying to read such a gorgeous looking book!). This has in no way influenced my review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Summer in the City is published on 8th July 2021 in paperback. You can buy the Ebook now!
Prue is not someone you would notice willingly. She likes to keep herself to herself and fade into the background. If it were not for the birthmark on her left cheek, she might actually succeed at becoming invisible.
She spends all of her time with her blind father, Vince. Together, they sit in silence and ignore the vibrant city just on their doorstep. Life is as good as what’s on TV. That is, until something forces them both to go outside and see what they have been missing. For Vince, that means discovering how to see the world without his sight. For Prue, that means finding the courage to finally love and be loved in return.
A story about family, friendship and facing your fears head on, this is a heart-warming story that will stay with you long after you have finished the last page.
This book was completely unexpected, picking it up and reading the blurb I anticipated a light hearted read which explored family relationships and summer love. What I read was a complex story about deep and sometimes dark subject matter, a sad tale of Prue our main character who at the age of 48 had lived an extremely sheltered and hidden existence, mainly of her own doing, and had a lot of demons that were consuming her. We are instantly dropped into her world, and as the story progresses we realise that Prue has a lot of issues stemming from many traumatic experiences from the past. The book touches on a lot of themes which can be very triggering, sexual abuse, abandonment, drug addiction, loneliness, mental health and suicide to name a few.
Throughout the story we get to know Prue and her life, how she has shut herself down and hidden away from the world, she lives with her blind father and uses him as an excuse to stay at home and hide away from life. They both start the story in a cloud of sadness and loneliness, spending time together but not sharing their lives. They are like two strangers passing each other daily, housemates rather than father and daughter. However a chance encounter causes them to start making small changes, leaving the flat for a fun reason instead of just a medical appointment, they embark on a journey of self discovery and exploration which leads them to find happiness in a place they thought they had no chance of experiencing again.
I found Prue a difficult character to warm to, I hate to admit it but I became really frustrated with her a lot throughout the story, she had a lot of problems and I sympathised with her, but her whole issues with her facial birthmark and how others perceived her because of it started to really grate on me after a while. I just wanted to shake her and tell her to stop talking about herself that way! As I got further into the story I did begin to understand why she was the way she was, and her journey of self discovery was important, I just felt she should have not been quite so self degrading.
I absolutely loved her dads character, even when he was at his worst he still had a glimmer of hope and watching them both navigate through the city was just so lovely.
Fiona Collins does a great job describing the city of London, her language and description put such vivid pictures in my mind of where they were. Some places I knew, others were completely new to me and I felt like I was being let into a secret world of Londons magical hidden spots. I would love to go and visit some of these places myself! The Palladium flat sounds beautiful!
I certainly enjoyed a lot about the book. The London detail, the architecture facts, the history of London in the 80s, Prue's father and Prue's outfit choices as she became more confident! (I would love to visit the shop owned by Maya!) All of these attributes made it a story I could become immersed in and helped to give colour and a rich feel to the story. It had a great journey of self discovery and the characters grew and clutched onto the glimmer of hope that arose from one strange day on the London Underground.
About the author
Fiona Collins grew up in an Essex village & after stints in Hong Kong and London returned to the Essex countryside where she lives with her husband & three children. She has a degree in Film & Literature & has had many former careers including TV presenting in Hong Kong, traffic & weather presenter for BBC local radio & film/TV extra. Fiona writes contemporary women's fiction.
As a reader, I like to read on my Kindle in bed or on the sofa on a weekend afternoon, with a paperback. From Valentine’s Day 2020, I’m setting myself a challenge to read 50 women’s memoirs/autobiographies in one year. I'll be posting my thoughts about them on my website https://fionacollinsauthor.com/
Have you read this book? What did you think? Could you relate to any of the characters? Does it describe a London that you recognise, or were there hidden gems in the story waiting for you to uncover? Let me know in the comments below!